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26 February 2019 | Story Eugene Seegers | Photo Eugene Seegers
Prof Francis Petersen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Daniella Coetzee, South Campus Principal, Tshegofatso Setilo, Director Access, Prof Prakash Naidoo, Vice-Rector Operations
Prof Francis Petersen, Prof Daniella Coetzee (Principal: South Campus), Tshegofatso Setilo (Head: Access Programmes), and Prof Prakash Naidoo (Vice-Rector: Operations) on the South Campus for the welcoming of first-years.


“Welcome to the South Campus of the University of the Free State!” Addressing a packed Madiba Arena, Prof Francis Petersen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS, said he was happy to see not only first-year students, but also parents and guardians, student leadership, and support staff from both the Bloemfontein and South Campuses.

 “I would like to congratulate each of our first-year students for making the decision to come to Kovsies to further your studies here. But I would also like to thank you for making this choice,” he continued.

Prof Petersen further emphasised that the students’ experience and success as individuals are important to the UFS as an institution; therefore, academic and support staff are on hand to guide them through their journey to becoming well-rounded individuals. “We will surely take care of you,” said Prof Petersen. He also reassured parents and guardians that their loved ones would be well looked after.

The Rector also focused attention on the role of student-leadership structures, such as the newly-formed Institutional Student Representative Council (ISRC) and South Campus SRC, members of which were present in the audience. He thanked them for playing a key role in the student constituency, highlighting their support and guidance to help first-years cultivate a sense of belonging at the UFS.

Turning back to first-year students, Prof Petersen stated that they have the unique opportunity to study on a campus specifically focused on developing their full potential, a campus where they can realise their dreams. “Your arrival on the campus marks a new chapter in your life. This chapter is slightly different, as you are the author thereof. The previous chapters in your life were largely written by others—your parents, guardians, families, teachers, and others. You will now be the main author in the next chapter of your unique story.”

“At Kovsies, we believe in developing students in their totality as human beings, not just the academic side. May your time with us equip you to make a success of your life after university!”

Prof Petersen’s Message to First-year Students
  1. Take responsibility for your academic programme.
    • Keep your focus. Study and study hard. You will reap the rewards and see the advantages of making success in your studies a top priority.
    • Make sure that you have enough time for your studies; balance your social life and your time set aside to study.
  2. Realise and remember that you are not alone.
    • If you find things difficult, seek help.
    • Our Department of Student Counselling and Development has trained staff and tailor-made programmes that can assist you.
    • Look after your mental health—and look after each other’s mental health.
  3. Make the most of your time at Kovsies.
    • Join one or more of the student organisations; why not try something new?
  4. Embrace difference and diversity.
    • Get to know students who are different from you.
    • You will lose valuable opportunities to grow if you only associate with your own all the time. It is important to get to know students who are different from you. It could be someone from a different part of the country, or from another country, a different ethnicity, a different religion, someone who has different views from yours, or who has different interests and perspectives.

News Archive

Statement by the senior leadership of the University of the Free State
2016-02-29

Statement by the senior leadership of the University of the Free State regarding the situation on the Bloemfontein Campus 

All academic and administrative activities on the Bloemfontein and South Campuses of the University of the Free State (UFS) resume on Monday 29 February 2016.

In light of the recent incidents on the Bloemfontein Campus, the university leadership would like to address the understandable concerns of students, staff and the general public. The university obviously respects the rights of individuals to freedom of speech and expression, but notes that these rights are subject to reasonable limitation, and cannot extend to justifying criminal acts.

The Bloemfontein Campus is secure and security measures have been doubled up to ensure the safety of students, staff and public property. The court interdict is in place and will be enacted if required. Unlawful disruptions, including those involving criminal conduct, will not be tolerated.

The university strongly condemns the unlawful and unacceptable conduct by students, protesting outsourced workers, and visitors to its campus during the past week, and in particular the assault on protestors at Xerox Shimla Park on Monday 22 February 2016 during a Varsity Cup rugby match between the FNB Shimlas and FNB Madibaz. The university has started a comprehensive and independent investigation into criminal activities on this campus before, during and after the Xerox Shimla Park events.

The university regrets the destruction of public property and the intimidation of staff and students which led to the shutdown of academic and administrative activities on the Bloemfontein Campus. Extensive investigations are underway to identify the perpetrators who took part in all incidents of disruption and criminal conduct, and urgent steps will be taken against such individuals or organisations in due course.

The university leadership remains deeply concerned about a dangerous and damaging allegation that a lecturer was identified on a widely circulated photograph while assaulting a protestor at the Varsity Cup rugby match on Monday 22 February 2016. The university diligently investigated this allegation and found it to be false; the individual is NOT a member of the UFS staff. A suspect was however identified and evidence handed over to the South African Police Services (SAPS) for urgent action.

It has further come to the attention of the university management that a number of individuals and organisations continue to make blatantly false and defamatory statements on social media platforms with the intention of inciting criminal conduct, threatening individuals, and spreading fear within the university community in order to unsettle the campus. Investigations are at an advanced stage to prosecute individuals and groups involved in such criminal conduct in the social media; both those who post these statements and those who repost or retweet them, are liable under the law.

Should you wish to confirm whether there is any truth attached to a circulated rumour or allegation, please call +27(0)51 401 2911, +27(0)51 401 2634 or send an email to news@ufs.ac.za. Legal steps will be taken against individuals and organisations that persist in circulating such misleading and damaging statements.
    
The UFS urges all individuals who are in possession of evidence or knowledge of any crimes that have been committed on the Bloemfontein Campus in the past week, to come forward with such evidence and information and to call the numbers indicated above or to send an email to news@ufs.ac.za. Any individuals who are in possession of video footage and photographs of the incidents at Xerox Shimla Park, the Equitas Building (formerly known as the CR Swart Building), Thakaneng Bridge, various residences, the Main Building and the grounds in front of the building, are requested to provide such evidence in order to assist with the identification of those involved in criminal acts.

The university leadership remains committed to its duty to act in the best interests of its students and staff and calls on its community and the public to act peacefully at all times and respect the rights of others.

Issued by: Lacea Loader
(Director: Communication and Brand Management)
Email: news@ufs.ac.za

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